Running your own trades business is challenging yet rewarding, tiring yet fun. Your day can be nerve-wracking and fulfilling at the same time, and yet you know that with a little more planning, it could have been better.
So as the previous year wraps up and you enter 2021 with new energy and new goals, it’s time to make that happen!
Here are some of the things Tradies see as challenges they faced in what had been a crazy roller coaster ride last year and are planning to overcome them to make 2021 bigger and better for their business than before.
Large pile of payments due and wages to be paid? Managing cash flow is indeed the hardest part of running your own business.
Everything from hiring new staff, to expanding your fleet, purchasing new tools and equipment and renting out a new office depends on your cash flows. Not having enough cash at the right time to invest back into your business, can stall your business growth.
Most often than not, the answer lies in sorting out your accounts receivables first.
So what can you do about it? Consider automating a few tasks such as creating invoices, sending reminders when the invoice is due and accepting online payments.
Deciphering the actual work completed on time sheets can be work in itself. So it’s no surprise when Tradies confessed that job planning is something they would like to master in 2021.
How many hours an employee actually worked? What did they work on? When did they start and finish and the breaks they took in-between, all needs to be tracked in real-time or else you soon watch your profitability dip.
Good thing is that there are apps for that. These can help you get on top on job management like a pro. With simple drag and drop features you can allocate staff and schedule jobs, while real-time notifications inform you of all jobs being started, put on hold, resumed and completed.
A number 1 goal for Tradies is to not leave their Business Activity Statement to the last minute. But preparing BAS is time consuming. You need to gather all your business receipts and invoices for the month, quarter or year before you can calculate your GST.
If your job management app is linked with an accounting software like Xero, keeping all your invoices and payments in one place can be simple.
Getting new employees is one of the biggest decisions, especially so when you are not sure about the amount of work you will be getting. It’s so big, it’s actually scary.
But despite your doubts, remember that you cannot do it alone forever. If you do, you’ll never grow. So take a deep breath and get ready for the plunge!
When you are free from the tools, it will give you more time to do the admin side of things. You can always send your staff for training during the quieter days.
Having said that, while it’s great to see that most trades businesses are doing well enough to think about expanding their teams, getting the right workers and keeping them is a challenge for most Tradies. The dropouts never seem to stop. Most hiring platforms are a hit and miss. Attitude of apprentices seems to be another problem. You never really know until they actually start the work.
When you are running your own trades business, always expect the unexpected. One day it will be raining, another day an employee will be sick and when the weather is great and the employees are fit, you would run out of your supplies.
So to avoid chasing your tail all the time, it’s good to schedule jobs well in advance. If the job is not urgent try to do draft rosters at least two weeks in advance to have room for alterations, so the next time a job comes up you are neither left short on staff or with a grumpy employee.
This is something that needs constant update. You don’t just need to get the word out for your business but also keep your customers engaged, so the next time they need a service, the first thing that comes to their mind, is your and your name alone.
So step back for a bit and take a good look at what worked for you last year. You might want to replicate the ideas in 2021 and leave out the ones that did not work.
Also consider paths you have not treaded before. Building partnerships with non-competing trades for referral business, joining community groups to help you find prospects and doing local advertising on Instagram and Facebook that not only links back to your website but is also great in terms of showcasing the visual outcomes of your work with photos and videos.
With people putting a great deal of trust in customer referrals, you can also get a good return on your investment with business cards, flyers and popular online platforms where customers tend to leave their reviews.
Slack happens in every trade unless you live in Melbourne, I suppose. It’s interesting to see a number of Tradies thinking about learning a new skill to keep things moving during those quieter times of the year as well as for personal growth.
Something that complements your first trade is an ideal way to go forward.
For example, if you are a refrigeration and air conditioning technician having summer as the busiest time of the year, you can start an apprenticeship to become a qualified electrician, so you can have a steady income all year round.
We all are in the same boat. Some have stepped into those shoes before you did, so why not take a cent or two from them? Might as well save your day!
There are several support groups that can help you out with that. Everyone may not know everything but there will always be someone who has the answer to your question. Tradie Life is one such growing community of Aussie Tradies on Facebook.
You can also go for online courses in accounting and book-keeping if you are not yet ready to outsource it to someone else. Take some time to read books on time management and team management and you are all set for the new challenges 2021 holds for you.
Holidays are over! You will soon get stuck into that crazy schedule again! Time to sit down with your mentor and set those goals for the New Year. Track progress every quarter if not on a monthly basis and I’m sure you will get there!
Realistic planning and consistency is the key!
This article was originally published in 2019, and has been updated to match the present industry scenario.
i4Tradies can help you get on top of your cash flows, do better job planning with scheduling and real-time job tracking, keeps all your invoices and payments in one place and semi-automates sharing of your completed job via social media.
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